We often get asked the question: “How do I prepare for a stocktake?” It’s a great question to ask and your stocktaker will be really pleased to know that you have done your best to pave the way for their auditing process. And you too will be pleased, because with less queries from your stocktaker, you have more time to do what’s really important: running your hotel, restaurant, pub or café.
Now at this stage we do need to put in a couple of disclaimers. If Venners are already your preferred stocktaking supplier it is important to note that each individual site has their own needs. It may therefore be necessary on occasion to tick off any additional customised pointers given by your stocktaker prior to their visit. If Venners is not your stocktake supplier we do also advise you to check with your current stocktakers regarding any further preparations they require from you.
5 Steps to Prepare for your Next Stocktake
Being thoroughly prepared for your stocktake helps to significantly smooth out the stock auditing process. Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your stocktake is painless:
1. Make sure all your branch paperwork is up to date and available:
If you didn’t know this already, stocktakers have to sift through hordes of information and paperwork in order to find out where your business processes are lacking and can be improved. This includes going through every single bit of the following documentation:
- Delivery notes / invoices
- Transfer notes
- Takings information
- Weekly Returns of Business
- Float details
- Allowance details
Having all these available and easily accessible is conducive to a swift, problem free stocktake. It also means that the results you get from your stocktakes are entirely complete and comparable to past and future stocktakes.
What would be even better, is a digitised format of all of the above documentation. Save the trees and all that! And thankfully there are plenty of software solutions out there these days that will help you to stay on top of your electronic paperwork. Our stocktakers around the UK are experts in every EPoS and stocktaking software solutions that is on the market, so feel free to give us a call if you ever need help with choosing one that suits your hospitality business needs.
2. Tidy up all stock throughout your entire venue:
The amount of times our stocktakers come back horrified from a job because of the unorganised mess they’ve had to deal with in a venue’s bar, cellar, storeroom or fridge are too many times to count. The reality is that when an establishment does not keep tidy and organised storage areas the stock count itself becomes unnecessarily lengthy. That being said, stocktakers typically work to either a half day or a full day, therefore significant increases in stocktaking time due to untidy areas could result in being bumped up into the next timing category, thereby considerably increasing the cost of your audit.
So how do you make sure your stockholding areas are tidy?
a. Bottle up
Most decent hospitality establishments will either do this at the end of their day or first thing in the morning anyway, but when you have a stocktake scheduled at a random point in the day it can be easy to forget to keep your beverages and food supplies tidy and accessible. A common stocktaker saying is ‘we are stock counters, not stock finders’. So, depending on the timing of your scheduled stocktake, make sure you appoint someone to rearrange and reorder your stock into equal and easily countable lines.
b. Fill up cases
Running a food and beverage operation is a fast paced endeavour and it does sometimes happen that your staff, in the rush of keeping up with customer demands, open up several cases of the same product. Whilst a well organised stacking system would help avoid this, it is important to ensure that if more than one case has been opened and used, that you combine the leftovers of these cases so that there is always only one half or part case of each product in the cellar or storeroom.
3. Unlock and open cupboards to give the stocktaker access to all necessary areas:
One of the oft forgotten preparations for a stocktake is making sure that as soon as your stocktaker arrives they have easy access to your storage areas. Of course stock should be kept secure at all times too, so this is sometimes considered a bit of an inconvenience. It’s one of the reasons why we always advise customers to have someone accompany the stocktaker to the necessary areas (we’ll explain the additional benefit to this piece of advice in a bit). This would ensure that the stocktaker has access when they need it and are not left hanging around for keys.
4. Instruct all staff to follow protocols during the stock count:
One person knowing about the stocktaker’s arrival is simply not sufficient. Oftentimes the manager of an establishment will know about our stocktaker’s visit but has not actually informed his staff about it. This is problematic for two reasons.
a. There should be a strict protocol of no movement during the count
All staff should be aware that stock is not allowed to be moved from one storage area to another. Doing so could influence and skew the stocktake results.
b. Any deliveries that arrive during the count should be kept separate
Staff should put to one side any new deliveries that arrive during the count where possible. It is difficult for a stocktaker to complete an auditing process efficiently if halfway through the process of a count or documentation analysis they need to amend stock data in drips and drabs.
However, sometimes when food is being delivered it needs to be stored at a specific temperature and the client needs to store it as a priority. So it is not always practical to keep deliveries separate. Your stocktaker should ask about any expected incoming deliveries upon their arrival. They can then make arrangements for an appropriate plan to conduct the count so that deliveries can be included in the count without inhibiting the stock audit process.
5. Set aside time to accompany the stocktaker during his or her audit:
We realise that this is often one of the most difficult preparations to make. Because despite the best intentions in the world, you never know how busy your establishment is going to be when your stocktaker arrives. You can count on Sod’s law that you will be snowed under when the time comes; customers flocking in droves.
Despite this though, we still maintain that accompanying your stocktaker is indeed a best practice that should not be neglected. Not only do your venue’s key personnel learn the essentials of stocktaking, what to look out for and how it benefits their management decisions, it also means that the stocktakers remain accountable and transparent to your business. Now we trust our stocktakers implicitly, but supporting and observing the stock auditing process from within gives you the assurance that the completed audit is in fact producing accurate data for you to rely on. It also means that rather than leaving secure doors unlocked for a lengthy period of time to give the stocktaker access, your key management keeps everything under lock and key, thereby preventing pilferage of stock by dishonest personnel. And finally, it means that the stocktaker always has someone available to answer questions that are vital to the stocktake process itself.
So those are our 5 essential steps to prepare for a stocktake. We hope they are useful to the stock auditing process and that you feel more ready to welcome your stocktaker in the run up to your next stocktake. For more information about our stocktaking services click here.